The Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard defamation trial has finally ended in a somewhat split verdict. While Depp won the larger settlement of $15 million in damages and Heard won $2 million in damages from her countersuit, the real winner in this farce of a trial is… nobody.
I suppose the level of notoriety of the two celebrities involved in this case should have prepared us all for some degree of hysteria, but what actually occurred was disturbing on a number of levels.
First and foremost in the way in which social media latched onto the extreme nature of the volatile relationship that Depp and Heard shared. Users across all platforms acted as judge, jury, and executioner by vilifying Heard at every turn, mocking her purported mental health conditions, poking holes in her testimony, and utilizing her sometimes erratic behavior to prove that she was not only lying but deserved to be figuratively crucified by the court of public opinion. All of this despite ample evidence that the dysfunctional relationship between Depp and Heard clearly involved abusive toxic behavior by both of them and frankly, none of us were in the room where it happened. It was appalling and represents an extremely dangerous precedent for the way future cases of domestic, physical, emotional, or sexual violence may be handled moving forward.
Second, victims of abuse already face extreme adversity in coming forward with their allegations. Very few cases ever make it to trial due to the way our judicial system is set up. When allegations have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, unless there was physical evidence that was obtained by a medical examiner or a police officer who may have been called to the scene of a domestic disturbance call, cases like
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